[Libs-Or] A response to critics of my post about "American Dirt"

Bryce Kozla brycekozla.wccls at gmail.com
Wed Feb 5 11:08:47 PST 2020

"Librarians should oppose efforts to silence anyone’s voice."
Interesting to include this line, irony-free, in a separate email that
detaches itself from the thread that it's referencing.

Thank you so much, Marci, for sharing your response. I hope library staff
around Oregon take what you've said under consideration.

On Tue, Feb 4, 2020 at 11:13 PM Tony Greiner <tony_greiner at hotmail.com>

> * The range of responses on my post about how libraries can protect
> themselves from the censors of American Dirt makes me think that the
> writers of some of these posts didn’t bother to read mine, just as I doubt
> that all the people who signed the letter to Oprah read American Dirt in
> the week between its publication and the sending of the letter. But I will
> respond to the main statements in opposition to my idea that we should
> defend American Dirt should the censors come to our library doors,  and to
> stand up for Cummins or any author from being mobbed by those who seek
> political gain at her expense. First, some respondents made of point of
> saying that their library had bought copies, of the book, and that no
> library had burned or banned it.  That's true- but I never said that those
> things occurred.   I do anticipate that there may be those that call for
> libraries to remove or not buy the book.  If that happens, I offered an
> argument that libraries can use in defense of having books where an author
> of one race writes about another. That is a defense of libraries, and I do
> not understand why some librarians reject that idea. Nick Schiller put
> forth the idea that censorship can only be done by a government. That is a
> common idea, but it is incorrect.  For years, including my childhood, the
> Catholic Church published a List of Prohibited Books, commonly called “The
> Index.” Practicing Catholics were told they needed to get permission before
> they could read them- and I remember my mother consulting the list one day
> after mass. My understanding is that this list had a chilling effect on
> publishers, who tended to avoid publishing books that would be avoided by
> members of the largest denomination in the country. That’s censorship. The
> “Motion Picture Production Code” also known as the “Hays Code” was a
> voluntary creation of Hollywood Studios that prevented directors from
> making films that had vulgar words, passionate kissing, cursing,
> homosexuality, miscegenation, and other things.  This code lasted until
> 1968, when the present ratings system was adopted. The “Comics Code
> Authority” served a similar function. Censorship can be practiced by
> non-governmental bodies. In this case, the attacks on author Jeanine
> Cummins have the clear intent of chilling future authors who want try
> writing a book with characters from another culture, and publishers who are
> willing to distribute their work. To say this is not a form of censorship
> is disingenuous. If some people are unhappy with how books by Latin writers
> are promoted, then they have the option of working with publishers, or
> starting their own company. Dragging down an author who has had success in
> the business end of publishing doesn’t elevate anyone else.  As for the
> “Cultural Appropriation” claim, that is a Potemkin Village. (Is it cultural
> appropriation that I used a Russian term?)   I shared the list of
> distinguished writers who wrote about another race and culture. Where are
> the cries of cultural appropriation against those writers? An writer has
> the right to telling the story they want to tell.  Publishers have the
> right to promote and sell the titles they choose. We don't need another
> Index.  If someone doesn’t like a book, they can criticize it on its
> literary merits, but to attack the author, claiming that she does not have
> the right to tell a story of her choosing because her skin is of the wrong
> color, or she was born in a different country, or speaks a different
> language is wrong. The name-calling and threats to disrupt a book signing
> is immoral, perhaps criminal. Librarians should oppose efforts to silence
> anyone’s voice.  Lastly, my concerns about these attacks have nothing to do
> with “White Privilege.”  They have to do with protecting any writers who
> are attacked by the mob because they dared to stretch themselves and write
> a story of another culture, or gender, or race. The color of my skin has
> nothing to do with it.  My commitment to the core library value of
> supporting Freedom of Expression has everything to do with it. I am sorry
> that there are librarians who have abandoned that principal.  *
> **tony_greiner at hotmail.com**
> ------------------------------
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